Thursday, June 30, 2022

a poem i wrote

by walter w johnson iii

i wrote this poem
a long time ago
when i had nothing to do
and nowhere to go

an angel appeared
from out of a cloud
it had something to say
but not out loud

i wanted so bad
for it to be my friend
but all good things
must come to an end

i have no words of wisdom
or any words at all
the world is a bat
and i am a ball

i bounce and i bounce
and look up at the sky
i keep falling back
but i do not know why

the street has a corner
and the corner has a store
it has a sign in the window
but i do not know what for

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

the applicant

by fred flynn

billy smith was on time for the most important event of his life, as were most of the other applicants.

he was issued a small tablet and directed to a seat in the middle of the auditorium, which seated around fifty thousand applicants and quickly filled up.

a person - who looked like a so-called “real” person, but might not have been, - came out on stage.

greetings, the person announced in a voice which did not seem to require a microphone.

as i am sure you all know, today is the defining moment of your existences, when you will be assigned your places in the great panorama of human society.

each of you has been given a small tablet. i ask each of you to please take your personal i d card and tap it on the tablet, to turn the tablet on and to register yourself. the penalty for using a fake i d card, or one not properly belonging to you, is quite severe, as i am sure you know. there are attendants in the aisles if anyone needs any assistance. these attendants will be happy to assist you if for whatever reason you are incapable of writing on the tablet.

all set? that was not too difficult, was it? now, we come to the important part. as you see, there are three spaces on the tablet to list three possible identities for you to be assigned. obviously, everybody can not be assigned everything they wish. for example, there are only two thousand openings for football players, one thousand for movie actors, twenty for the featured stars of those movies, about a hundred for trained deadly assassins, five for best selling novelists, ten for members of the royal family, ten for members of the great council, and one for council president. but there are twenty billion people in the world, with about two hundred million of you new applicants every year.

your existences, waking and sleeping, have been tracked since birth. those of you who have even the slightest chance of achieving one of the more coveted slots, will have been made aware of it many times over. therefore we ask you to be realistic in stating your preferences. because, as you have been told all your lives, if you make an unrealistic selection that has no chance of success, you will be moved to the bottom of the application pool, where you will be lucky to be assigned such roles as protest mob extra, front step paper bag wine drinker, itinerant fruit picker, street corner raver, or homeless crackhead. one last time, i implore you to be realistic. there is nothing shameful about being a bus person, a rest room attendant, or a full time tv watcher.

thank you. please make your choices.

billy smith wasted no thought or time in writing in his three choices. they were:

1. quarterback for the moscow marauders

2. trained deadly assassin

3. movie star

most of the persons in attendance made their choices with the same alacrity. it took billy about ten minutes to hand in his tablet, exit the auditorium, and disappear into the night.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

the last item

by fred flynn

the alien ambassador made his demands politely but unequivocally, and mr fred smith, who in his capacity as the recognized “richest man on earth” was representing the human race , had no choice but to agree to them with a smile.

the list of demands was almost complete.

the humans were to surrender to the aliens the following quantities of the following items:

200 billion tons of sand

200 billion tons of mud

400 billion tons of soybeans

100 million cubic miles of salt water

1 million cubic miles of fresh water

5 billion cows

20 billion chickens

40,000 tons of gold

2 billion kg of silver

1 billion oranges

1 billion lemons

20 tons each of broccoli, lima beans, and brussel sprouts

i think we can manage all that, mr smith informed the ambassador. is there anything else we can help you with?

as a matter of fact there is.

and what might that be?

a substance we are not familiar with, but which you earthlings seem to set great store by, so we assume it must be very useful. you yourself are considered to have the largest amount of any one earthling, and we believe that is why you have been chosen to negotiate with us.

oh, you must be talking about money.

quite so.

so you want some money? how much?

we have to determine what it is. then, we can decide if we want any and how much..


so, what is it?

that is hard to say.

try. you ought to know, you supposedly have plenty of it. according to my notes, you have 400 billion units of it. give us half, and we can decide if we like it or want it and we can go from there.

i could give you some of the things i can get with 200 billion - gold, silver, beads, pork bellies. money used to be those things.

we have already told you what we want of those things. come, sir, you are beginning to try our patience.

i could give you some art works. the mona lisa? something by picasso or andy warhol? how about the sistine chapel? i bet the sistine chapel would like nice on your planet.

we have no use for such rubbish. and we do not have “a planet”. and we do not have all time to discuss this. deliver some of this money, now, so that we can load it on board if we want it.

i could give you a note for it.

a note? you mean put a number on a piece of paper?

yes, i suppose you could put it that way.

and that is your final answer.

i suppose that it is.

so you will not give us any money. i ask you one last time - why not?

well, because there is really no such thing.

you are trifling with us, sir. the galactic federation does not care to be trifled with. we leave you for now, but you will hear from us.

and with that, the ambassador departed, leaving mr smith, and his fellow earthlings, alone with their thoughts.

Friday, June 24, 2022

is this what you want?

by walter w johnson iii

the real estate agent
takes a bite
of tofu
and puts his fork down

the hostess of the restaurant
looks out the window
and wishes it would rain
because she likes to watch the rain

the little dog
pushes his head
over the half rolled down car window
but can not squeeze out of it
and run off down the street
much as he would like to

a lonesome whistle blows
but only in a country and western song
listened to by the parking attendant
in his shack
on his phone
on jango

Thursday, June 23, 2022

in the shade

by dog e relaford

nellie had a picnic basket
oscar had a boat
they pushed it in the water
and hoped that it would float

roger was a river
foaming with rage
sarah was a novel
that turned its own page

terence was a teacup
overflowing with tea
vittoria was a vegetable
that did not agree with me

the sun was shining overheard
the worms hid underground
the audience waited patiently
to hear a strange sound

suddenly a dinosaur
ascended the stage
i did not hear his presentation
being otherwise engaged

i wanted reassurance
that life is but a dream
so i made myself a sandwich
and floated downstream

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

a message from cindy

by nick nelson

how pleasant, albert thought, as he exited the office, to encounter an actual human receptionist.

he smiled at her. thank you, you were very helpful.

you are welcome. do you think you could do me a favor?


just stop on the fourth floor and leave a message for dave, that cindy will be late for lunch, can you do that for me?

yes, i think i can handle that.

thank you.


hello, i would like to leave -

do you have authorization to be on this floor, sir?

a few minutes ago i was just asked to leave -

do you have authorization to be on this floor, sir? if you do not, i must ask you to get back on the elevator and leave immediately.

well, jeeze louise, if you are going to be that way about it -

this conversation is over, sir, please turn around and get back on the elevator - now.

all right, all right, i’m leaving.


back down on the street, albert looked around and exhaled.

what was that all about, he wondered.

his phone rang in his pocket.


hi, this is cindy. did you leave that message for dave?

um, no, i am sorry , i wasn’t able -

so you didn’t leave the message?

no, i -

you stupid piece of human garbage! you had one thing to do, one thing, and you couldn’t do it !

i’m sorry -

go kill yourself, arbuthnot!

albert put his phone back in his pocket, but it rang again ten seconds later.


this is dave. is this the fulminating arbuthnot who could not give me cindy’s message?

look here, is this some kind of prank? am i being filmed to be on tik tok or something?

a prank? you will find out if this is a prank, and who you are dealing with, my good man!

but -

you have not heard the last of us, not by a long shot. we won’t forgot this. you may think we have, but we never will. and we have connections.

and dave was gone.

albert stood on the street, looking around at the people walking unconcernedly in the sunshine, going about their business without a care in the world.

only fifteen minutes ago he had been one of them.

how long ago it seemed now.

now he was an outcast, lost and alone. dave had spoken of connections. did he, albert, dare go back to his own office? or to his own apartment?

of course, it would be madness to go to the so-called “authorities”.

his only hope was to run. but where to, and with what? his i d and credit cards would be useless, and he had not carried cash in years and had forgotten what cash looked like.

could he survive on the street? for one day or night?

he turned and started walking.

Monday, June 20, 2022

bother on main street

by dog e relaford

albert was an animal
boris was a bird
charles was a canteloupe
and had the last word

davy was a jones
eggie was a plant
fred was a philosopher
a disciple of kant

george was a gourmet
harry wore a hat
even in the howling wind
how about that?

jake was a jewel thief
a knight in tarnished armor
jenny won the eighth race
and ran off with a farmer

lenny was a loser
molly was a mope
nellie spent her lonely nights
in the bathtub smoking dope

ollie had opportunies
that pete never possessed
the queen was arrested
but the jester confessed

ricky was romantic
shirley strung him along
you never knew when tony
would break into song

uncle joe had issues
with his very special friend
willie jones had had enough
and wished it all would end

excuse me for a moment
while my youth fades away
i will meet you at the river
and hear what you have to say

Saturday, June 18, 2022


by nick nelson

it was a beautiful day in the bermuda triangle.

elon musk and jeff bezos sat in deck chairs on the roof of the rulers of the world club, sipping gin and tonics.

george soros was napping in an easy chair in the corner of the roof, and mark zuckerberg was doing a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle on the floor.

vladimir putin and crown prince mohammed were playing cribbage at a table in the opposite corner.

suddenly george soros woke up, and blurted out -

let the people go!

you know, elon musk said to jeff bezos, i think that might be a good idea.

i do too, jeff bezos replied, i have been thinking along those lines myself.

vladimir putin chimed in. let’s do it!

hear, hear! the crown prince added heartily.

and so it was settled.

it was announced all over the world that civilization was disbanded and its inhabitants were free to go back home.

the towns and cities, the factories and offices and schools and universities and military bases and seaports quickly emptied.

the eight billion inhabitants of the planet drifted back to the countryside where the accumulated nuts and berries and mushrooms of centuries waited for them.

the same scenes of joy and exhiliaration were repeated a billion times over.

jared carter, 15, of waxahachie texas exclaimed, i have dreamed of this day all my life. this is even better than making the football team!

anna jardine, 88, of vienna austria, who had been confined to a wheelchair for twenty-two years, got up and walked.

the reverend mark tucker-st john, of stokely-on-the-marsh, set fire to his church before abandoning it and joining the throng rushing to the countryside, and shouted to the sky - freedom, freedom, freedom!

i knew it would happen if i just waited long enough, willem johnson, an uber driver in oslo norway,, told a reporter.

ali, a holy man in azerbaijan, came down from his mountain and headed to the countryside. on his way he met his brother selim, whom he hd not seen in nineteen years and who had been working as a busboy at a burger king in baku. now they were both free!

astronauts and waitpersons, financial consultants and pizza delivery drivers, prison guards and prosecutors and panhandlers, housewives and tv producers and assassins, embraced and danced as they left the metropolises behind to crumble into dust.

everywhere teeth crunched on nuts, and the juice of billions of berries ran down billions of chins.

and the sun came up - really came up and dispersed the clouds.

for the first time in 100,000 years.

Friday, June 17, 2022

a question

by fred flynn

the invaders had set up “information centers” in large and small cities and towns all over earth, where the natives were invited to come in and ask any questions they might have as to the details of the occupation.

questions could only be asked by a human in person at one of the “centers”. they could not be asked in writing and of course could not be asked electronically or on recordings, as all devices for doing so were strictly forbidden to humans.

each center was staffed by a single alien, so the waiting period to ask a question could be quite long, especially in the early days of the conquest.

nevertheless, jody sue martin, a middle school student from terre haute indiana, put three sandwiches, a bottle of mineral water and a copy of the princess casamassima by henry james into her backpack, and took the bus to the nearest information center, in indianapolis.

she had only to wait four hours to ask her question - she had been prepared to wait eight hours.

what is your question? young lady, the alien asked politely.

this may be a question you have been asked before, jody sue began.

that is entirely possible.

jody sue had carefully phrased and rehearsed her question, and began:

here is my question - the guest force ( ed. note - the aliens’ name for the invading force) is requisitioning large numbers of humans - hundreds of millions to start, but probably to eventually number in the billions - to travel to other solar systems and galaxies to do what appears to us to be the lowest type of manual labor, such as had virtually disappeared from our own technologically inferior civilization. it seems to us humans that a civilization capable of interstellar travel would hardly have need for such primitive means of manipulating matter. could you explain why this is not so?

you have, the alien replied, hit upon the answer with the word “seem”. though it may “seem” so to your human brains, it is far from the case. i am afraid the reasons for this can not be comprehended by said human brains.

and that is the only answer you can give me?

yes, it is.

though disappointed, jody sue thanked the alien, and yielded her chair to the next questioner. it could have been worse and taken longer, she reflected philosophically.

she did manage to finish the princess casamassima on the bus ride back to terre haute, and to save the third sandwich for her lunch the next day.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

the sharp

by walter w johnson iii

he called himself a card sharp
and he dressed the part
with a string tie and a little mustache
he sat at the bar
riffling a deck of cards
naturally, nobody wanted to play with him
or gave him any action
when he managed to sit in on a game
not even the dummy or the indian
gave him any action
so what was he up to?
the turk thought
he was some kind of federal lawman
and so did the chinaman

he hung around, on and off
for months
finally, the scotchman said
i have had enough
i am sick of looking at his foolish face
shuffling his stupid deck of cards
that nobody will play with except himself
a hush fell over the bar
when the scotchman said something
he meant it, he was not
the irishman or the dago or the russian

nobody ever saw the card sharp again
did he take the hint
nobody knew
or asked questions

the game went on
friendly like
the way it was meant to be
and the moon came out at night
smiling and relieved

Tuesday, June 14, 2022


by nick nelson

the archangel michael , wielding a flaming sword, appeared to mr elon musk in a dream and suggested that he divest himself of his wealth and spread it evenly among the world’s population.

mr musk agreed to do this, and on waking, ordered his underlings to set in motion the proceedings to do this.

it was determined that mr musk’s wealth was 250 billion dollars, and that there were 7.9 billion persons on the planet.

this came to $31.75 per person. this amount was directed to the bank accounts of every person in the planet who had a bank account, and checks for the amount were sent to the phones of all the persons without bank accounts.

747 persons on the planet could not be contacted by either of these methods , so mr musk was left with a bank account of $23,717.25.

with this money he purchased a used 2020 chevrolet impala, and drove it to an employment agency in gainesville florida, where he found a job as an assistant golf pro at a club outside ocala florida.

what did people do with their $31.75? here are are a few sample answers, mostly from the united states and europe. as results of surveys come in from south america, asia, and africa, a clearer picture may emerge.

samuel d johnson, a used car salesman from binghamton new york, treated himself - himself - to a steak dinner at applebee’s and left a good tip.

ramona richards. a homeless person in seattle washington, purchased $31.75 worth of recreational drugs.

carl collins, a second year agroforestry student at stephen f austin state university in nagodoches texas, also purchased $31.75 of recreational drugs.

desiree davies, a self-described survivalist living outside pocatello idaho, bought. $31.75 worth of rhubarb seeds.

conrad harker, of liverpool england, gave his money to his elderly mother.

11 year old sarah nelson, of regina sasketchawan put the money in the savings account she had started for her college tuition. she hopes to study creative writing.

jude mccarthy of meeker colorado gave his money to a fund set up to purchase guns to arm teachers in local schools.

dave carter, a self described adventurer living on the boardwalk at atlantic city new jersey, put all his money on red at one of the local casinos but the black came up.

reverend peter smith, a retired clergymen in bath, england, happliy purchased a somewhat faded second hand copy of sir walter scott’s count robert of paris, printed in 1840, illustrated by eugene delacroix.

abby carter-matthews, an aspiring model living in manhattan and supported by her family, gave the money to the first panhandler who approached her.

of course, this is just a made up story.

but suppose it was real. what would you do with your $31.75?